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Raje under Gujjar fire

The worst of the Gujjar struggle in Rajasthan may be over but the community does not want the BJP government to forget the promises it made to buy peace, reports KS Tomar.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2007 03:47 IST
KS Tomar

The worst of the Gujjar struggle in Rajasthan may be over but the community does not want the BJP government to forget the promises it made to buy peace.

On Sunday, it sent another reminder to the government in the form of a mahapanchayat in Jhalrapatan, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s constituency.

Thousands of Gujjars mobilised by their community leaders met and issued an ultimatum to the government to recommend their demand for Scheduled Tribe status to the Centre by September 12 or face another agitation. They also resolved to oust Raje from her post if she failed to keep her promise. Main Gujjar leader Colonel Kirori Singh Bainsala said: “The next Gujjar mahapanchayat will be held in Dholpur, the home district of the chief minister, on September 13 to give shape to the decisive phase of the agitation.”

The BJP regime finds itself in a situation where it is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. If it recommends the case of the Gujjars to the Centre, the Meenas will be up in arms against it, which may lead to a full-blown caste war in the state. If it doesn't accept the Gujjars’ demand, they will revive their agitation.

The last agitation had brought the state to its knees and spread across the country. The Gujjars had relented only when Bainsala and Raje had signed an agreement on June 4. According to that pact, a three-member commission will submit its report on the validity of the Gujjars' demand within three months. That deadline ends on September 12. “The government must convey its final decision to us prior to the mahapanchayat. If it fails, we will go ahead with our plan to revive the movement,” Bainsala said. Giving voice to the Meena community's stand, Labour and Rehabilitation Minister Dr Kirori Lal Meena said: “If the state government accepts the Gujjars' demand, the Meenas will launch a violent agitation and I will resign from my post.”

“I do not rule out the possibility of a caste war between the Meenas and Gujjars, which will be attributed to the defective handling of the situation by the government,” he added.

Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said the “Gujjars should wait for the Chopra Commission's final word, which will base its report on material supplied by the community to qualify for inclusion in the ST category”.

But several Gujjar leaders are already training their guns on Raje. Senior Akhil Bhartiya Gurjar Panchayat leader Rajendra Singh Vidhuri said: "Raje will pay heavily for cheating the Gujjars.”

Prahlad Gunjal, who has been expelled from the BJP for criticising the CM, said: “Our community will teach a lesson to Raje, who is trying to divide us. She will not succeed in her dirty game."